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Original Message:   Sleuthing in the bead market is a lot of fun, really...
Dear Martine,

Buy expensive real ones, and live with them for a awhile…you will learn. The trouble is: You have to pay the price. -Start at five hundred dollars per bead.

At five hundred dollars per bead, it begins to become cost effective for the copiest. And today, there is a lot of money in China…and the Chinese are selling to each other.

The question is: Who has the talent and the time to go to that much trouble finessing a fake? (The answer is: A brilliant Chinese copiest. And there seem to be a lot of them.)

For these reasons, I could also recommend buying cheap, ugly fakes to begin with. But the problem is: You will end up with a lot of cheap, ugly fakes.

Then compare your pile of expensive real ones with the fakes, and you will know too. Artistic things cannot be easily taught. They have to be experienced.

I have spent many months shopping in and around the "Curio Cities" surrounding the Panjiayuan Market in Beijing. I feel this was the right place to begin.

Is an education in Ancient Chinese beads worthwhile? Maybe not. But it is a lot of fun.

Just Fred

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